The recent breakup of Belarus Potash Company had Uralkali splitting from Belaruskali threatening to ramp up potash production in an effort to capture market share. Opinions have varied as to the short-term implications for global potash pricing, and even whether or not Uralkali can muster the infrastructure to support their volume-over-price production strategy.
News now comes that Uralkali CEO Vladislav Baumgertner has been detained in Belarus for abuse of office. Belarus collects a large percentage of its national revenues from potash sendoffs, and Belorussian President Lukashenko stands to lose a chunk of that nation's income if Russian potash producer Uralkali can capture sufficient market share.
This is a bad situation for Uralkali's Baumgertner as Lukashenko isn't known for taking kindly to dissent. Baumgertner was the chairman of Belarus Potash Company before the breakup. Sources at Uralkali say they have no specific information about Baumgertner's detention. This is a story to watch, and while PotashCorp CEO Bill Doyle maintains the hype over price declines is overdone here in North America, the detention of Baumgertner will further stress relations between Russia, Belarus and the European Union.
Photo credit: Pensiero / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND